Nanotechnology leverages super-small particles (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter) to create products with amazing properties. These materials can make better batteries or lighter and stronger bike frames, as well as new medical instruments and medicines that can save lives.
These "nanomaterials" are believed to hold great promise for a wide variety of applications. But shrinking these substances can change their properties, and scientists are struggling to figure out whether, how and why that shift can make them dangerous in the process.
Ms. Shaw's article from earlier this week gives an explanation that ties together diverse issues: consumables which employ nanotechnology + product labeling issues + aesthetics leading to unnecessary design adaptation + +
Physical sun blockers like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have been in use for decades, but were less attractive because they were opaque when applied (think the classic white blaze on a lifeguard’s nose).
Shrinking them to the nanoscale makes them go on clear, a big selling point for anyone who’s not interested in looking like a mime. But what does that change do?
Researchers from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration found that nano-sized titanium dioxide didn’t get into the bloodstream of laboratory pigs when they were slathered with sunscreen. A scientist in Australia, however, found that mini-particles of zinc oxide did get into the blood, albeit at minuscule levels.
Hmmm....chemicals leeching into the bloodstream? Sounds kinda not so good .
Check out the article, Some Sunscreens Have A New Mini-Secret, and backtrack on the series if you missed it.